“I’m So Angry That He’s Sick!”

9 months ago

“I’m so angry! I’m angry that he is sick. I am angry that I’m angry that he is sick.” 

“I feel guilty that I’m angry. I’d better not tell anyone how angry I feel. They’ll see what a ‘bad’ person I am. I won’t tell anyone——I’m so depressed.” Anger held inward becomes depression.

The above are thoughts from a caregiver’s inner being. Thoughts probably never shared, just kept inside. AND driving its owner deeper into depression.

The role of caregiver for someone we care about, or even someone we don’t care about, has many challenges. The challenge of just providing physical care, food, laundry, bathing, toiletries, companionship is huge.

Now add the emotional baggage we all carry in our relationships and we have a “perfect storm” for anger.

More and more people are finding themselves in a caregiver role. Not necessarily of their own choosing but out of necessity. Without guidance and support, which many are lacking, the task is generally overwhelming.

Enter anger. The thing about anger is we need some place to put it, a hook for it. That hook is often on others. We certainly don’t want to be angry at our special person who is dying, but we are. We can be angry with ourselves, and we are. “I shouldn’t feel this way. He’s dying.”

Anger is coming out in all areas except from where it originates — life. Everyone dies. The “how” is variable but it happens to all of us and to those in our life. Yet we are angry when our door is knocked on.

What to do when the visitor, anger, arrives? Look for it, recognize it and find ways to dissipate it. 

Find a listener. Someone who you feel safe talking with about how you are feeling. How overwhelmed, how tired, how frustrated and yes, how angry you are. Find a safe listener. No answers needed just a good set of ears and a shoulder to cry on. This could be professional or it can be anyone you trust. 

Take care of yourself. Eat, sleep, have down and away time. If you can’t get away because there is no one to be with your special person, go into the bathroom, the porch, or any place where you can be alone to cry, talk to yourself, even yell; get the feelings out: the frustration, the anger, the “I can’t keep doing this.” Then dry your eyes and begin again.

Writing in a journal often helps. Walking, if you can get away, helps. You want to break the cycle of caregiving for another even if it is for a few minutes. You want to think of yourself, even if it is for a few minutes. You want some me time even if it is for a few minutes.

Anger in caregiving generally comes from a place of frustration, of fear, of sadness, of tiredness. All sorts of feelings with no outlet so they come bursting out.

My husband always says “this too shall pass” BUT when it has passed your special person will be gone and you may be left with guilt for your anger. 

Try to make the most of this challenging moment by taking care of yourself as well as the person you are caring for. You want to be able to look back on this time as a sad but fulfilling time, a sacred time. 

There is room in this time for anger. It just needs to be identified, dealt with, and channeled in a positive direction.  

Something More… about “I’m So Angry That He’s Sick!”

Are you caring for a special person who is not fixable?  If so, my guidebook, By Your Side, A Guide for Caring for the Dying at Home will support you with the knowledge of what to expect when the dying process begins, what you can do (advanced directive, funeral planning, decision making…). And how to take care of yourself during the journey.  My hope is that this tool will educate and support you so that this will ultimately be a sacred experience. 

This little bundle will also prove invaluable from diagnosis to grief- the End of Life Guideline Series.

Read More 

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Jordan M
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